ARC REVIEW: What The Wind Knows – by Amy Harmon @AmazonPub @aharmon_author

Title: What The Wind Knows
Author: Amy Harmon
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
First published: March 1st 2019
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Finished reading: February 2nd 2019
Pages: 411

“I told you. You told me. Only the wind knows which truly comes first.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I think everyone knows by now I’m a huge fan of Amy Harmon‘s books and I’m always over the moon when I find out there is a new story coming out. The year 2019 has without doubt started on a high note with the upcoming release of What The Wind Knows. It is simply impressive how different and unique each new story is, and this newest addition is no exception. What The Wind Knows is one of my new favorites with a fascinating historical setting in 1920s Ireland, a time travel twist and a romantic and family story you cannot help but fall in love with. Each element has been created and developed to ultimately form a perfect balance together and they result in a story that will appeal to historical fiction and romance fans alike. The writing and plot development are sublime. The writing style will have you under its spell from the very first page and the beautiful prose is one of the reasons I already know What The Wind Knows will appear on my list of 2019 favorites. The plot itself is fascinating, well constructed and gives us a real insight what it would have been like living in 1920s Ireland. The descriptions of the setting and characters are detailed and help set the perfect atmosphere for this story… The time travel element is fascinating touch without it being a turn off for those who normally don’t enjoy science fiction. I personally loved how past and present mingled and overlapped, the lines blurring until ‘only the wind knows which truly comes first‘. The chapters alternated between journal entries written by Thomas and Anne’s POV set both in past and present. The chapters not only connect past events, but also show the influence of both characters on each other and their surroundings. The journal entries are simply fascinating and help put together the full image of both their lives. What The Wind Knows is wonderful romance story with a time travel twist set in a turbulent time of Ireland history. Beautifully crafted and simply splendid!

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Although Anne Gallagher has never actually been in Ireland, she grew up with her grandfather’s stories about the country and its culture. When he dies, his last wish is for her to spread his ashes in the country he was born. Anne travels to his childhood home, where something happens she never thought possible. She is pulled into another time, and the transition hasn’t gone smoothly… Injured and confused, Anne is found in the lake and put under the care of Dr Thomas Smith. Both the doctor and the young boy who lives at his house seem oddly familiar, and Anne is able to connect the dots when she is mistaken for the boy’s long-lost mother. But how will she be able to survive in a time not her own and convince the others she is someone she knows nothing about?

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I’m honestly not all that surprised by my reaction to What The Wind Knows, because I have loved every Amy Harmon book I have picked up so far (both Making Faces and The Smallest Part also receiving the highest rating possible). It doesn’t matter whether you prefer reading historical fiction or a romantic family drama, because What The Wind Knows manages to deliver both in a perfect balance. The time travel element gives this story a unique touch and is well incorporated into the story and Irish cultural references. The writing, the setting, the descriptions, the characters… This story is absolutely fantastic and I can highly highly recommend it.


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ARC REVIEW: The Psychology Of Time Travel – by Kate Mascarenhas

Title: The Psychology Of Time Travel
Author: Kate Mascarenhas
Genre: Science Fiction, Mystery
First published: August 9th 2018
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Finished reading: January 23rd 2019
Pages: 336

“Life’s better with a few risks than a lot of regrets.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I have heard lots of great things about The Psychology Of Time Travel in the last couple of months, so I was excited to be finally reading it myself. The first thing that stood out for me was the fact that the most important characters are all female. This doesn’t happen too often in the sci-fi genre (that I’m aware of) and it’s good to see female scientifics in the spotlight. This story present time travel in a very interesting way. It was fascinating to see how they first developed the machine and how the company has grown over time, making time travelers into an elite group with their own slang and views on life. The psychological aspect behind time travel is intriguing and The Psychology Of Time Travel will definitely leave its mark and make you wonder how you would react to the effects of time travel. It’s interesting that they cannot go to the distant past; only to when machine was invented onwards. The whole seeing past and future selves does sound a little disturbing though… I think I would go mad myself even though I would probably be aware time travel exists in that situation. This is partly where I had some doubts: the way that so-called ‘one-way travelers’ accept the sudden appearance of time travelers that easily without going crazy. The plot is intricate and constructed in quite a complex way, making sure you will have to pay attention to the different characters and timelines to be able to put together the full puzzle. The mystery around the death in the toy museum and the different characters and their futures are intertwined, and you will slowly learn how everything fits together. The Psychology Of Time Travel is a fascinating debut that left me wondering about how I would react to such situations. Surprisingly low on the sci-fi and high on the psychology, this story is perfect even for those who are not really into the sci-fi genre.

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Back in 1967, four female scientists are able to build the world’s first time machine. Just as they are about to present their invention to the world, one of them has a breakdown and the other three exile Barbara from the team… Fifty years later, time travel is a successful business and the three remaining scientists are thriving. Barbara has never forgotten her time as part of the team though and even though her daughter wants to forget that time forever, her granddaughter Ruby feels different. Ruby knows that her grandmother was one of the pioneers… And when Barbara receives a mysterious message about the murder of an unidentified woman in the near future Ruby is determined to find out what will happen.

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This story is part sci-fi, part psychology, part murder mystery, part family drama and part romantic fiction. There are a lot of different elements involved in The Psychology Of Time Travel, and somehow they all manage to work together and create a very fascinating debut. The complex plot will have you on your toes as you try to fit everything together, but only in the most positive way. It was interesting to see the different characters evolve over time and the psychology behind time travel is simply intriguing. I loved the details of the time traveler’s slang as well! This book definitely left a mark and will stay with me for quite some time.


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ARC REVIEW: Here And Now And Then – by Mike Chen

Title: Here And Now And Then
Author: Mike Chen
Genre: Science Fiction, Time Travel
First published: January 29th 2019
Publisher: Mira Books
Finished reading: January 14th 2019
Pages: 336

“We’re all different people all through our lives, but that’s okay, as long as you remember all the people you used to be.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Mira Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I know that science fiction isn’t my typical genre, but there was just something about this story that made me want to read it almost instantly. I have been looking forward to pick up Here And Now And Then for months, but somehow I don’t think my expectations were actually met. I can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but I think it has to do that for a time travel story, I found the sci-fi elements rather weak. Here And Now And Then read more like a romance/family drama with a time travel touch rather than the other way around, and this definitely wasn’t what I was expecting. The story is mostly character driven and while some details are mentioned about the time travel and future, the focus was mostly on Kin and his lives in the 1990s and 2142. The chapters in the future didn’t feel all that authentic or detailed and I didn’t get a proper 1990s vibe from those chapters set in that era either… As I said, the focus was mostly on the characters themselves. There was a whole lot of drama going on and combined with my lack of connection with the characters I had a hard time getting a proper feel for the story. Add a slower pace (not unusual with character driven stories), and I ended up having a completely different experience than I thought I would have… But that is probably just me, since most people do seem to love this story. Sci-fi fans might be disappointed by Here And Now And Then, but fans of family dramas with a sci-fi adventurous touch will probably have a great time.

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Kin Stewart seems to be having a very ordinary life, married with a teenage daughter and working in I.T. in suburban San Francisco in the 1990s. Nobody knows he used to be a time-traveling secret agent from 2142, stranded in the 1990s after a mission went wrong… He has been stranded for eighteen years, keeping his past a secret and making a new life for himself even though that is against the rules of the agency. Then a rescue team suddenly shows up to bring him home to a family he can’t even remember anymore… And Kin suddenly finds himself torn between two lives.

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I had high expectations for Here And Now And Then and this might just have been part of the problem. That and the fact that I was expecting a proper sci-fi story, and encountered myself with mostly a family drama with a lot of romance and only a hint of sci-fi instead… Definitely not what I had in mind when I started this time travel story. I wish the time travel aspect would have been more developed as well as more present in the story… It’s not a bad read and the writing is good, but the story read quite slow and as always with more character driven stories, not being able to connect to the characters puts a damper on things. I’m sure the right audience will love this debut though!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #71 – Big Little Lies & Outlander

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two books I have been meaning to read for a long time and finally decided to read in 2018. Both turned out to be more than pleasant surprises! Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty and Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.


Title: Big Little Lies
Author: Liane Moriarty

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery
First published: July 29th 2014
Publisher: Berkley
Finished reading: December 23rd 2018
Pages: 460

“They say it’s good to let your grudges go, but I don’t know, I’m quite fond of my grudge. I tend it like a little pet.”


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I’ve been meaning to read another Liane Moriarty book for a long time, and I’m probably the last person on earth to finally pick up Big Little Lies. I kind of picked it up on a whim while browsing my kindle, and I definitely not regret making that decision. There is no doubt that Liane Moriarty knows how to write an intriguing mystery that goes out with a huge bang. I liked how she kept what happened that fatal night a secret in such a way that you don’t have a clue about the who or why until the final bombshell is dropped. I definitely didn’t see the ending coming! The plot is both intricate and well constructed and part of the reason this story is such a success. I liked the idea of following the three main characters is the weeks before the incident, especially since they are mixed with those police interview bits to keep you intrigued and curious about what happened. You will be on the edge of your seat until you find out all the details! I wasn’t sure about every character, but their development is without doubt very well done. Each character has its own background and problems, and while there were a few cliches involved, I could really appreciate the abuse angle and the necessary attention it brings to the fact it ‘can happen to anyone’. There is a lot of drama and some of it was a bit farfetched, but the ending definitely makes up for it. All in all Big Little Lies was a success for me and I’ll be looking forward to watching the TV adaptation.


Title: Outlander
(Outlander #1)
Author: Diana Gabaldon

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Fantasy
First published: June 1st 1991
Publisher: Dell
Finished reading: December 28th 2018
Pages: 866

“Sometimes our best actions result in things that are most regrettable. And yet you could not have acted otherwise.”


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I have been meaning to read Outlander for years now, but both the sheer size of the books and the fact that I wasn’t sure the story would be for me made me hesitate for a long time. I don’t mind big books if they are good, but I feared there would be way too much romance involved for me to tolerate… But Outlander turned out to be the exception to that rule. Once I finally started reading and finished the first few chapters, I knew Outlander and me were going to get along just fine. All in all it took me about a week to finish it, which is not bad at all for such a beast of a book… And I had a surprisingly good time with it as well. Why surprisingly, would you say? Well, there are a lot of sexy scenes involved in Outlander, something that normally makes me drop a book like hot coals and discard it right away. They still made me cringe at points (adult content just isn’t for me ladies!), but the rest of the story was intriguing enough for me to tolerate them. The writing is excellent and the worldbuilding is sublime. I really felt like I were in Scotland myself along with the main characters; the descriptions of both the time period and surroundings extremely well done. The time travel aspect is also very interesting, especially since it comes back repeatedly in for example Claire’s profession as a nurse in the 20th century. I really liked Jamie as a character and while Claire can be exasperating at points, she does make for a good story. The story flowed well and managed to keep my attention all the way to the end. I’m definitely glad I finally give in and read Outlander, and I will be looking forward to read the sequel this year.


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ARC REVIEW: The Echo Room – by Parker Peevyhouse

Title: The Echo Room
Author: Parker Peevyhouse
Genre: YA, Science Fiction
First published: September 11th 2018
Publisher: Tor Teen
Finished reading: August 3rd 2018
Pages: 320

“He’d known other empty places, knew how quickly they could fill with dread.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Tor Teen in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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When I first saw this book mentioned, I was immediately intrigued by both cover and blurb. There is just something about it that sounds dark and menacing; the promise of a very good dark thriller, especially with the potential amnesia angle. What I can say is that The Echo Room definitely wasn’t what I was expecting. It’s one of those books that either works for you, or it doesn’t… And sadly I belong to the second group. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot to avoid ruining surprises, but let’s just say it’s more appropriate to call The Echo Room a science fiction read rather than a dark thriller. And I think I appreciated the whole idea behind this book a lot better than reading the actual story. There is no doubt that the author has thought up something really inventive and has come up with an original way to tell this story. Like the main characters, we are completely left in the dark about crucial information that would make it easier to understand what is really going on… While this can add a lot of intrigue when done right, I don’t think I actually appreciated this technique in The Echo Room. I mostly felt the story was too vague and strange to be actually able to connect to it. I wasn’t sure about the writing either, as the chapters just felt way too repetitive and didn’t manage to keep me interested. Like I said before, I understand the reason behind this repetition and I find the idea itself ingenious; I just didn’t enjoy actually reading it. I had problems with the main characters as well… Especially Rett came over as a bit whiny. Overall I thought The Echo Room was based on a very ingenious and inspiring idea, but unfortunately I liked the idea of this book a lot better than reading the actual story. This might just have been because The Echo Room simply isn’t for me, so if you are into science fiction and don’t mind repetition, you might just have a blast reading this one.

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When Rett wakes up on the floor of a cold and dark room, he doesn’t know where he is or how he got there. The worst part is that he is locked in… and he is not alone. A girl named Bryn is trapped in the room with him, and neither trusts the other. Instead of working together, they each try to find out what is really happening and how to get out… They realize they will have to work together if they ever want to escape, but can they really trust each other?

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If you like science fiction, are looking for something different and don’t mind repetition in the plot, you will probably enjoy The Echo Room a lot better than I did. I still really like the idea behind this story, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to enjoy actually reading it. Between the lack of crucial information, repetitive chapters and lack of connection to the story and characters I had a hard time making it to the final page, although things did improve later on. The story was just too strange and vague for me… But like I said before, the problem might just have been me.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #33 – Slaughterhouse-Five & Crochet Animal Rugs

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two completely different titles. The first a modern classic I finally came around reading: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I can’t say it was for me, but I’m glad I did finally read it. The second is a non fiction crafts and hobbies book I just had to request to learn more about those adorable crochet patterns: Crochet Animal Rugs by Ira Rott. If you are looking for a great gift or inspiration to decorate your kid’s bedroom, you will be in for a treat!


Title: Slaughterhouse-Five
Author: Kurt Vonnegut

Genre: Classics, Science Fiction, Historical Fiction
First published: 1969
Publisher: The Dial Press
Finished reading: July 11th 2018
Pages: 285

“It was true. So it goes.”


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I’ve had this modern classic on my TBR for years and years, but somehow I never actually picked it up. I had heard it had a WWII angle, so I thought it would be the right fit for me, but what I didn’t realize was that there was going to be a lot of science fiction and time travel involved. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind those elements when done right, but it can come as a bit of shock if you are not expecting it. I think Slaughterhouse-Five and me simply got off on the wrong foot. So it goes. It’s not the story, it’s most likely me that’s the problem here. So it goes. While I can completely understand why so many people have so much love for this story, and I can also understand why this is a modern classic, somehow this story just didn’t work for me. I highly enjoyed the historical aspect of the story and the parts set during WWII. I could have handled the time travel elements as well, since they do add dept to the story… But add aliens to the mix and sign me out. So it goes. This story was just too much for me to handle; without doubt another sign I should try to stay away from science fiction or at least investigate more thoroughly before actually picking up a title. Oh well, we can’t like them all, can we? So it goes… At least I’m glad I did give Slaughterhouse-Five a chance.


Title: Crochet Animal Rugs
Author: Ira Rott

Genre: Non Fiction, Crafts And Hobbies
First published: August 7th 2018
Publisher: Sewandso
Finished reading: July 15th 2018
Pages: 144

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Sewandso in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***


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Ever since I discovered crochet last year, I’ve been on the look out for new ideas and patterns to try out. As soon as I saw the adorable rug and pillow on the cover of Crochet Animal Rugs, I just knew I had to know more about these patterns. And I have to say they are absolutely adorable. If you are looking for interesting and cute patterns to brighten up your child’s bedroom or gift something adorable to someone else, you will be in for a treat. There are patterns for beginners as well as advanced crocheters, indicated accordingly. There is even advice for left-handed crocheters like myself, which is highly appreciated. This book uses US terminology, but there are useful conversion charts included if you need to convert to different terminology. In the back, stitches are explained clearly with pictures, helping you understand which is which. Also, the making of eyes and bows are explained separately as well as basic pillow shapes. That and other crochet techniques and other ideas of using the patterns. I love the idea of the wall decorations! My absolute favorite of the patterns is between the elephant rug and pillow, and I love the kitty cat placemat and rug as well. The crab security blanket is adorable and the dinosaur theme perfect for a little boy! There is definitely a lot to love in this crochet book.


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ARC REVIEW: Reincarnation Blues – by Michael Poore

Title: Reincarnation Blues
Author: Michael Poore

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
First published: August 22nd 2017
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Finished reading: August 12th 2017
Pages: 384

“Death was a door. You went through it over and over, but it still terrified people.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Del Rey Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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This book isn’t exactly what I would normally pick up, but there was just something about the cover and blurb of Reincarnation Blues that caught my attention and made me want to read it. Reading books out of my comfort zone can go either way, but all in all this novel by Michael Poore turned out to be a little gem. The first thing that stood out when I started reading Reincarnation Blues was the writing style. I fell in love almost immediately with the way this story was told and I found myself completely absorbed into this piece of speculative fiction with a sci-fi twist. This story is about a man called Milo who is reincarnated through many many lifetimes set both in the past, present and future. He is now about to start life number 9.996… Just when he finds out he only has five more lives to get it right and reach Perfection. The chapters are a mix of what happens during these lives, what happens in between and how he fell in love with Death herself.  Some lives are told in more detail while others seem less important, but they all help develop his character in a very fascinating way. Basically you can say Reincarnation Blues is a collection of connecting short stories about the different lives Milo lives and how his actions influence his next life. The romance is subtle, very well done and didn’t bother me at all; the wordbuilding of the different world in between fascinating. I personally didn’t enjoy some of the chapters set in the future (for example chapter 14, which is set in a prison in space) as much as the rest of the story, but that could have been just me not being into full-blown science fiction in the first place. The wonderful writing and rest of the story in general mostly made up for those feelings though. Reincarnation Blues isn’t for everyone, but it is a truly fascinating read that I can definitely recommend if you think this sounds like your cup of tea!

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Milo has been reincarnated nearly 10.000 times when he finds out he only has five more lives to get it right and reach Perfection so he can become part of the Oversoul. He is not sure he truly wants this though because it might affect his relationship withhis one true love: Death herself. They only see each other in between lives and he can’t imagine having to continue without her… But Milo doesn’t seem to have any other option than to try his best, because if he doesn’t get it right before the deadline, his soul will vanish forever. His lives take him from ancient India to outer space to Renaissance Italy to the present day in the hope of finally living that perfect life. Will he be able to reach that goal in time?

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Reincarnation Blues isn’t the type of book I normally pick up, but sometimes browsing outside your comfort zone can bring some very pleasant surprises. This book turned out to be a hidden gem and I really enjoyed following Milo’s story as he lives his lives through time and space. Some chapters were a bit too futuristic for me, but that is probably mostly me since sci-fi isn’t really my genre in the first place. The writing was wonderful though as well as the rest of the story.


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